Friday, November 8, 2013

Will the airport now come up on an island?

NAVI MUMBAI: The prospects of the Navi Mumbai airport becoming a reality got brighter with the Union environment ministry said to have favoured an alternative proposal to build it on an island reclaimed from the sea close to the city.

Sources close to the development called it a big shot in the arm for the state government and City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), as talks with the local villagers over acquisition of 671 hectares of land, including 292 hectares in the core aeronautical area, had ground to a standstill in recent weeks. On Friday, Cidco officials will have another round of talks with the villagers, in what is being said to be a crucial meeting, before the review meeting with the PM on November 13.

"The other good news is that the Dutch model of creating the island and building the airport on it would cut costs by half, including the value of the land to be compensated, relief and rehabilitation package, and reclamation by razing the Ulwe hill," said a source. Meanwhile, villagers upped the ante on Thursday, making a fresh demand of cash compensation of Rs 6.25 crore for every hectare acquired, taking Cidco authorities by surprise.

Congress MLA Prashant Thakur said, "The land compensation model and other issues related to settlement for the acquisition of land might be replicated in future for other mega projects. It is unlikely that the government would accede to the new demand."

Thakur and PWP MLA Vivek Patil are invitees to the ongoing talks between Cidco and the Antarrashtriya Vimantal Prakalpgrastha Badhit Samiti.

Cidco MD, Sanjay Bhatia said, "In Friday's meeting we will again discuss the issues."

RC Gharat, advisor to the Samiti, said, "If the villagers are not happy with the compensation model, then the matter needs to be discussed."